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December 13, 2022

Sometimes a cough is more than a simple cough. It seems easy to chalk coughing dogs up to so-called "kennel cough," but veterinary researchers continue to find additional and more complicated ways dogs end up coughing and coughing and coughing for longer than you'd ever expect.


"Kennel Cough Has a New Name"

This recent headline from Clinician's Brief intrigued me, so I logged into my free account over there and printed out the full peer-reviewed article.  Find a few key points summarized below.

coughing dogs article thumbnail Kennel cough has a new name

Coughing Dogs - CIRDC

Canine infectious respiratory disease complex (CIRDC) is complicated with several possible infectious agents.  

Why Rename Kennel Cough?

The article explains, "The disease has been referred to as kennel cough and infectious tracheobronchitis, but CIRDC is now preferred, as this term highlights both the involvement of multiple infectious agents and that disease susceptibility depends on host immunity and environmental factors. Moreover, although the term kennel cough may be useful in discussion with pet owners, it has become somewhat synonymous with Bordetella bronchiseptica and can cause confusion because dogs with appropriate vaccination history and robust immunity can still become infected with other CIRDC pathogens."

Which Dogs Can Get CIRDC?

The article says, "Any dog can be infected with CIRDC-associated pathogens; however, young dogs and those with pre-existing airway disease (eg, bronchiectasis, airway collapse, ciliary dyskinesia) may be more susceptible due to impaired airway clearance. In addition, dogs in high-density environments or those that are immunologically naïve or immunocompromised (endogenous or exogenous) are at increased risk and appear to develop more severe disease."

Doesn't Vaccination Help Coughing Dogs?

Help? Yes. Prevent entirely? No.

The paper's author says, "patients with up-to-date vaccinations against B bronchiseptica and parainfluenza virus appear to have attenuated clinical signs. Vaccines are not available for many viruses implicated in CIRDC."

Attenuated simply means lesser or reduced symptoms. 

However, there are NOT vaccines for several of the suspected pathogens. 

How Bad Can CIRDC get?

Veterinarians divide the cases into uncomplicated and complicated, depending on severity seen in different coughing dogs. 

Veterinarians divide the cases into uncomplicated and complicated, depending on severity seen in different coughing dogs.

So-called "uncomplicated" cases feature acute, but self-resolving coughing with dogs coughing up yuck. Such cases typically run their course in 10-14 days and may require prescription cough suppressants.

"Complicated" cases, on the other hand, get quite serious with likelihood of developing pneumonia, a fever (103-104 degrees F), and higher respiratory rate and greater breathing distress and effort. These coughing dogs might also sound crackly via stethoscope. Coughing dogs with complicated CIRDC often require initial hospitalization and ongoing treatment after that for 2 to 6 weeks, with several needed meds as recommended by your veterinarian. The author says, "although prognosis is generally good, subsequent development of severe pneumonia can progress to sepsis or multiple organ dysfunction due to systemic inflammatory response syndrome."

About the Author Roxanne Hawn

Trained as a traditional journalist and based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA, I'm a full-time freelance writer for magazines, websites, and private clients. My areas of specialty include everything in the lifestyles arena, including health and home, personal finance and other consumer interests, relationships and trends, people and business profiles ... and, of course, all things pet related.

I don't just love dogs. I need them in my life. Seriously.

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